Terps eager to play again after Duke debacle

Unpredictable Clemson at Cole today, with UM trying to forget Devils

College Basketball

January 20, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Their legs still might be a bit weary after traveling to Duke, where they engaged the top-ranked Blue Devils in a fast-paced shootout before fading badly in the stretch and suffering their first loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Three days later, the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins are thrilled to get back on the court with a chance to erase the memories of a rare defeat.

Maryland, which is home again after opening its league schedule with three of four games on the road, expects to start a new winning streak against seventh-place Clemson tonight.

The Tigers (11-7, 2-3) are a curious group. They have been good enough to win at Georgia Tech and hold No. 10 Virginia to 52 points in their biggest victory. They have won by 13 at Penn State. But Clemson also has been bad enough to lose at home to Yale and Winthrop and get blown out at No. 14 Wake Forest.

Maryland (13-3, 3-1), which has just suffered its third loss a year after starting its season with a 1-3 record, is counting on history repeating itself. The Terps have owned Clemson in recent years, having beaten the Tigers seven consecutive times.

"We'll have our legs back by Sunday. Coming back from a game like that [with Duke], with all of the hype, you just have to get ready for Clemson," said Maryland coach Gary Williams.

"The bad news is we might be tired. The good news is we get to play. The thing is not to sit around and dwell on [the loss]. Clemson is interesting. They've been up and down. You have to expect their best when it's a league game and you're ranked. We're a veteran team, and veterans know how to take wins and know how to take losses."

Clemson, which lost prolific scorer Wil Solomon to the NBA after his junior season, will look to junior point guard Edward Scott to rattle the Terps. Scott, one of the more improved players in the ACC over the past two seasons, is leading the conference with an average of 7.4 assists.

The Tigers are getting strong performances from senior small forward Jamar McKnight and will count on sophomore guard Tony Stockman to go on one of his shooting streaks. Stockman, who has been known to launch a few 25-footers, takes about seven three-pointers per game and shoots 35.3 percent from beyond the arc. McKnight is averaging a team-high 15.6 points against the ACC.

The Tigers also will count on junior center Ray Henderson (9.6 ppg, team-high 9.3 rpg) to counter Maryland center Lonny Baxter inside. Baxter, who tired noticeably before fouling out against Duke, is still fighting the lingering effects of a sprained right ankle suffered nearly three weeks ago.

Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said he does not expect to see a tired Maryland team.

"Maryland's loss was absolutely unimportant [to tonight's game]," said Shyatt, who in five seasons with the Tigers has never beaten Maryland at Cole Field House. "Young people are far more resilient than us older folks."

Expect Williams to try wearing out the Tigers up front with a four-man rotation that continues to grow with the maturation of junior backup center Ryan Randle, who had seven points and six rebounds in only 12 minutes at Duke.

Williams said he wants to get Baxter and Randle on the floor together. Williams also would like to see junior reserve forward Tahj Holden rebound from a scoreless, 18-minute night in Durham.

And the odds are that senior shooting guard Juan Dixon will bounce back from his worst game to energize the Maryland offense. Dixon scored a season-low 10 points at Duke and made only two of nine shots from the field.

Junior backup guard Drew Nicholas, who had 12 points and five rebounds at Duke, is eager to leave the losing feeling behind.

"I like the fact that we get a chance to play again so quickly," Nicholas said.

Terps today

Opponent: Clemson

Site: Cole Field House, College Park

Time: 6:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: CSN/WBAL (1090 AM)

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